When it comes to new programming ideas and intriguing concert projects, the Bundesjugendorchester (National Youth Orchestra of Germany, or BJO) is always ahead of the game. At Young Euro Classic, where the BJO has been among the regulars from the first festival year onwards, its palette of unusual concerts already includes performances with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra to featuring film music from the silent movie era to the present. Diversity is key: Following its motto “Playing. Supporting. Raising Enthusiasm”, the young musicians aged 14 to 19 meet for several intense rehearsal periods per year. The orchestra presents compositions from all epochs, including contemporary works and world premieres. The BJO has become one of Germany’s most important cultural ambassadors, as its concert tours to Ukraine (2017), India (2018) and South Africa (2019) demonstrate. In 2022, the focus was on supporting the Ukrainian Youth Orchestra through joint benefit concerts and fundraising campaigns. Since 2013, the Berlin Philharmonic has been the patron orchestra of the BJO, holding joint rehearsals, master courses and concerts.
To have outstanding soloists perform with the Bundesjugendorchester after they were members of the orchestra themselves is not a rare occurrence. This time, however, it is the conductor Clemens Schuldt, whose musical career began as a violinist. After studying conducting in Düsseldorf, Vienna and Weimar, he won the renowned Donatella Flick Competition in London in 2010, thereupon becoming assistant conductor at the London Symphony Orchestra for a year. Today, Clemens Schuldt has made a name for himself as a concert and opera conductor. In Berlin, he made his debuts with the Konzerthaus Orchestra and the DSO; further invitations have taken him to Scandinavia and France, Spain and Japan. Among the prominent soloists he has worked with are Khatia Buniatishvili, Daniil Trifonov, Frank-Peter Zimmermann, Vilde Frang, Igor Levit, Ilya Gringolts and Christian Tetzlaff. In Munich, the conductor led an unusual project celebrating the Beethoven Year at the Isarphilharmonie together with the Jazzrausch Bigband.
Martynas Levickis‘ career started deep in the forests of Lithuania, where he began imitating birdsong and the rustling of trees on the accordion when he was three years old. At the age of eight, he enrolled in the Sondeckis Music School in his hometown of Šiauliai; later he studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Levickis’ rapid rise as an ambassador of the accordion accelerated further when the 20-year-old won the casting show Lithuania’s Got Talent in 2010, becoming a superstar in his homeland. This was followed by a debut album released by Decca Classics – Levickis was the first accordionist to sign a recording contract with the label – which immediately went to the top of the British classical charts. In Lithuania, the artist founded an Academy of Accordion Music and his Mikroorkéstra, an ensemble with which he fills stadiums all over the Baltic States with the shows he conceives and produces. Other projects have led to collaboration with such diverse artists as the baritone Benjamin Appl, the cellist Kian Soltani and the mandolinist Avi Avital.
Symphony No. 7 in C-major Op. 105 (1918-1924)
„The Ghost Machine Treatise“ (2023) – Commissioned by the German Music Council, the Stiftung Bundesjugendorchester, Martynas Levickis and the Festspiele Mecklenburg-Vorpommern
“Helix” for Orchestra (2005)
“Don Juan” Op. 20 (1887-1888)
General Manager Bundesjugendorchester
About the concert
Since the beginnings of Young Euro Classic, the Bundesjugendorchester, or National Youth Orchestra of Germany, has been a constant presence at the festival, and always good for surprises. This year, an accordion was chosen for the first time as the solo instrument in the popular concerto: this instrument has long shed its fuddy-duddy reputation and has found a home especially in contemporary music. One of its stars is the young Lithuanian accordionist Martynas Levickis, winner of multiple awards. For him and the Bundesjugendorchester, the Swede Daniel Nelson has written a brand-new work, and Berlin is part of its series of world premiere performances. The rest of the programme presented by the orchestra that unites the best teenaged players from all over Germany is also oriented strongly towards the north: it also performs the colourful orchestral piece Helix by Esa-Pekka Salonen, complementing Nelson’s novelty piece; Jean Sibelius’ Seventh Symphony forms a richly contrasting counterpoint. At the end of the concert, Richard Strauss’ tone poem Don Juan gives the Bundesjugendorchester yet another opportunity to showcase its musical prowess!